Have you ever thought about the way you eat? I mean really thought about it?
It seems like many of us go throughout our day in warp speed grabbing a bite here and there and never really knowing what’s going in our mouth.
In this, the first of our mindful eating series, you will take a step back to really look at your eating style. To understand the way you eat and take steps toward bringing more awareness and mindfulness back to your meal times (whatever those look like for you).
So, before we go any further, download the quiz accessed via my free resource library to help you find your eating style. Once you discover yours, there are specific strategies on the handout to follow for each style.
Ok, now that you have that, let’s explore each of the eating styles. As we go along, I want you to consider what eating style might best fit you? You might find yourself agreeing with them all and that’s ok! Try to pinpoint 1 or 2 that are your biggest triggers. Your handout will be your guide on how to manage and deal with your specific eating style(s).
If you find yourself wanting to dive even more into this topic and explore, please reference the book “Intuitive Eating” by Evelyn Tribole. It’s a great book to help you get a better handle on all things mindful eating.
7 COMMON EATING STYLES
THE CAREFUL EATER
A careful eater is all about making sure things are perfect. They obsess over every bite. Others might label them as a “health nut”, but under the surface they suffer. They are constantly trying to get their nutrition perfect, but they don’t really have a balance when it comes to health and wellness.
In fact, if you find yourself a perfect eater, you might also find yourself an all-or-nothing eater. Either you are perfect and eat perfectly, or the second you slip up you throw it all out the window, because what’s the point? You are so careful and meticulous with what you think you should put in your body that your relationship with food is out of balance.
Are you a victim of shiny object syndrome? The next diet or meal plan just came out and you have to try it! It’s guaranteed to help you lose those last few pounds, or give you more energy, or get you back on track.
You see, the nutrition industry is reeeealllly good at making you feel like you need their products to be successful. You’re triggered by feeling fat or even feeling like you don’t know how to eat healthy so someone else can tell you exactly how.
Professional dieters are inundated with specific food rules. You can’t eat this or that. You create rules around food and start to label foods as “bad” or “good”. This creates a long-term dysfunctional relationship with food because you have a long list of things you should and should not eat.
THE UNCONSCIOUS EATER & CHAOTIC UNCONSCIOUS EATER
The unconscious eater is triggered by eating while doing something else. Do you find yourself eating lunch at your desk more often than not? Or eating while reading a book? Or struggling when you do actually have to sit down and experience your food? You might engage in some unconscious eating and wonder where that food you just ate went! You don’t even remember eating it!
The chaotic eater is triggered by being too busy. You’re always eating on the run and grabbing whatever food is available at the moment. In this scenario, you are also unaware of what you just put in your mouth - you have other, more important things to be worried about to stop and eat.
The refuse-not eater is someone that is tempted by the presence of food. Potlucks, parties, and other events tend to trigger overeating or eating foods that you don’t necessarily need. You may have just eaten a big lunch, but those snacks in the break room are too appealing.
If you are a refuse-not eater, you rarely say no when someone offers you something. But, you often feel guilty afterward because you feel like you have no self-control or can’t say no to something you know you don’t really need even though it looks appealing.
The waste-not eater is similar to the refuse-not eater in that they are triggered by the presence of food, but especially free food. Buffets, break rooms, events. All of this brings out the lack of self control.
If you find yourself a waste-not eater, you likely get a little stressed about upcoming events or places you know there will be free food because you’re certain you’ll have no self control over it.
And lastly, the emotional eater. The emotional eater is triggered to eat by whatever emotion they are currently experiencing.
Most people see emotional eating as being curled up on the couch with a pint of ice cream and some potato chips (because when you’re having a bad day, of course those two things go together!).
But emotional eating is much more than that.
Emotional eating is eating when experiencing any sort of emotion. You could be excited and feel like you should celebrate with food, or angry and frustrated and need something crunchy, or sad and need something sweet.
Emotional eaters use food to deal with their emotions most of the time. This means they turn to food when they experience anything that is uncomfortable or extreme.
Ok, now that we’ve explore the 7 different eating styles, which one(s) resonate with you most? Do you find yourself agreeing with one or several of them? This can give you a good snapshot of what your relationship with food looks like at the current moment and the things you might want to start working on.
The key to managing these eating styles is to figure out your trigger (such as eating chaotically because you are busy) and then either change it, or reframe it. For example, if you are too busy to sit down and eat, then try to make sure you have some good, healthy food options around you at all times so you can grab and go on the run. Try your best to mindfully eat those foods as you drive or whatever else, but at least you know you’re getting better nutrition than stopping at the next fast food place.
Your handout has specific strategies to use to help you eat more mindfully no matter what eating style you relate to. Or, come up with your own strategies that work for you!
Understanding how you eat is the first step in making any changes, so once you’ve discovered your eating style and built some strategies for working on it, come join us for the next post in the mindful eating series - “know when to eat and how to stop”.